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tells us why this could have far reaching implications. >> reporter: bob says he was protesting in san francisco when he was arrested. >> i was engaged in a completely nonviolent, a completely peaceful medium. >> the police looked through his private messages. >> we shouldn't give up our right to privacy. >> reporter: the aclu joined him in a lawsuit filed against san francisco police. >> please need a warrant to search our phones. >> reporter: under federal law, it's legal for police to search cell phones, but it has not been tested under california law. >> when the phone is searched, it's not just a privacy of the person who is arrested that's violated. >> reporter: experts say the legal battle is being fought across the nation. >> every jurisdiction has cases on this. some cases say cell phones are protected without a search warrant all the time. some cases say they're never protected. some cases say they're protected if it's password protection, but not if it isn't. >> reporter: i called the san francisco police department and the city attorney office, both offices said they had no
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